It's a much broader than your typical technology startup funding event. It will explore alternative and traditional lending options, angel investments, crowdfunding, private equity and more.
I have the honor of being on a panel, Startups Start Here, moderated by Daryn Kagan of CNN fame. I will be joined by a great group including Daryl Dollinger, Co-Founder of Raving Brands and President of Big Game Brands; Andrew Linder, Partner at Frontier Capital; Sig Mosley of Flashpoint Ventures/Imlay Investments/Mosely Ventures; David Rudolph, Founder and CEO at PlayOn! Sports; Michael Tavani, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Scoutmob; and Mark Wilson, President & CEO at e-Verifile.
Quite the panel.
you are seeking startup, working, or growth capital this will be a nice event to learn about various local sources of captial and find out which are right for your business. It is a bargin at $30 and friends of FoG can get a $10 discount (the discount code is ATCLW).
Amidst a growing rash of lawsuits across the country that might just dork up the whole concept of internships I made my way up to KinetixHR to talk with their class of student workers over lunch. My friends there said all I had to do was talk about myself, my career choices, and what I had learned along the way. Easy enough. No prep required.
This is what I told them I have learned over the course of my career.
Do what you love
Have life goals
The path is not straight
And this was my job hunting advice
Always be networking, nearly all my career moves came from networking
Never send a resume until someone asks for it
Have a well built out LinkedIn profile because...
The first thing someone is going to do is Google you
Control as many top 10 SERPs as you can
Great group, had a lot of fun. Afterwards every single one of them reached out connect on LinkedIn. I was forewarned they would do so. And I accepted of course. I don't know if the Kinetix interns are paid or not, I do know the company is working hard to deliver them value over the summer.
The keynote speaker was Dave Moody whose firm, C.D. Moody Construction Co., is the second-largest minority contractor in Georgia (after H.J. Russell & Co.) and No. 46 in Black Enterprise magazine’s 2012 list of the nation’s 100 largest black businesses. Quite the successful guy, with quite the story. Dave was sexually abused as a child. The Penn State sex abuse scandal drove him to go public with his personal story in order to help others.
His presentation was emotional and moving. And one thing he said really stuck with me. "Always give them a way to tell you something bad." It's true with your kids and applies to business as well. You have to give your employees a way to tell you bad news and believe/support them when they give it to you.
Thought it would be helpful to share my Venture Atlanta presentation. Eleven slides to tell the story in six minutes.
Put this together starting with a blank in about a week. Few words. Large fonts. I wanted people to pay attention to me, not the slides. I wanted to freedom to modify the words of the presentation after it was submitted. I actually thought about using no slides at all but was talked out of it.
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So on Wednesday I wandered down to the big fish tank for Venture Atlanta. A fine event. One of the best of startup things a guy, or gal for that matter, can do. I was there as the non-paid entertainment, pitching Half Off Depot as we gear up for our Series B in 2013.
And I gotta tell you the truth it was a little surreal. I skipped Venture Atlanta in 2011 as I was running around the Southeast expanding our business. But before that from the year it was formed in 2007 through 2010 I attended the event for the lack of a better term, an observer. I was not pitching and I was not investing. I was coaching the companies that presented. It's a fun job if you can get it and it's always easy to be a critic.
And it started out the same way as it always had. At some point or another I had coached six of the first ten early stage companies to present. They did great.
But coaching and doing are two distinct things and I was slated as the second venture company to present right after my pal Braxton of Clearleap. I had not stage pitched my own company since 2005 and the last time I did something as big as this was when Venture Atlanta was known as ION and somehow I got elected to pitch CipherTrust. I got elected again.
I was a little like the President the first time back in the bright lights and a room full of people. Rusty. It really sucks when you can not see how the people that you are speaking to are reacting. Instead of a confidence monitor with the slides they need a confidence monitor with a camera shot of the audience. Regardless I think I got my main points across. We are building a platform that enables local merchants to market online, we have a lots of revenue, we are making money, and with a little more capital we can sell more and make more money. Overall I gave my performance a B. There were better and there were worse.
My friend Taryn of Synkup gets best of show (or at least best of Wednesday) from me. I don't know if she is going to raise any money but that girl can pitch.
The early stage folks seemed much better prepared than the venture companies. I ascribe this to them having more time on their hands.
Presenters wore jeans. We are learnin to relax a bit down here.
Venture Atlanta is a great forcing event. It forced me to create an executive summary. It forced me to create a pitch. It forced me to practice.
The networking time with the VCs was fantastic. Talking to them about our business was more practice. They asked great questions, some for which I had no answers (but I will get them), and I got an offer or two to help.
It was great to spend some time networking with folks that I had not seen in awhile.
Some of the folks that I had not seen in awhile (which is almost like two years) were in the exact same place with their startup as they were two years ago. If this is you stop.
There was one out of town investor that said "all the pitches sucked." Tool.
Sam Williams talks too much. He talks so much the mayor called him on it.
Not sure how many if any checks get written as a result of a conference like this.
If you get a chance to present at something like this do it. It's worth it. And if you do it take the time to do it well.
Update: I forgot one thing. The coach became the player. I benefited greatly from my coaching session. Great ideas for improvement from experienced entrepreneurs and investors that I tried to incorporate into my presentation and slides. You can always learn and should be willing to do so.
So I became a Startup Riot ambassador. Mainly because I believe that it is one of the most important events on the South technology scene. Startup Riot is growing and branching out. They have started MAKE which is essentially a startup weekend like experience and it is good to see someone picking up the ball there. But the big gathering is Startup Riot SHOW.
SHOW is an all-day pitch event that highlights 25 startups giving three minute pitches. If you want to see the latest early stage stuff this is the place to be. The prices are low, ranging from $30 to $70 for the day and it is free to present.
This year SHOW takes place on February 22. Registration closes on February 8. The registration to pitch has passed but if you have it going on you still might be able to make the stage. Drop me a line.
We have been looking for a community manager to join Half Off Depot for sometime. The basic plan was to have introductory meetings and then move forward with second interviews where the candidates would provide an overview of what they would do if given the job. Best plan gets to execute kind of thing.
I had a good first meeting with a woman who I will call Brigette, mainly because that is her real name. We setup the follow up meeting on the spot. I was a little worried about the timing of it and mentioned this to her. More than once. She said she was in. And then she cancelled. She had a reason. It did not matter. I blew her up. She was no longer a candidate. A commitment with care thing. This was back in June.
Mid July Brigette sent me this note.
I attended a social media meeting recently, which underlined two key qualities of a good community manager: being brave and being persistent. I figured it was the universe's way of telling me to send you the deck I created for the Half Off Depot Community Manager position.
If you haven't hired anyone yet, I'm still interested and enthusiastic ... and to prove it, here's the first Half of my deck. The rest, I'd like to show you in person.
Here's the deck. To add a little context to the title slide Mr. Livewell is our mascot.
I wanted the full story. She earned herself another shot. Brigette starts at Half Off this week. I think she is going to be a great.
This morning I was invited to Morris, Manning & Martin's Atlanta Technology Breakfast. This little event was slipstreaming off of SEVC. The agenda was 20 companies giving three minute pitches to a room full of local and out of town VCs, one who happened to be sitting next to me.
While the presenting companies were generally quite good these exchanges took place for two different companies.
VC: "Is this real?" Me: "I don't know."
VC: "What do they do?" Me: "I can't tell you." VC: "Companies should say what they do up front?" Me: "Yes they should."
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